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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 125 - August, 2005

Staff

 


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Hitch The Straight Story
Guess Who Sin City
Alexander Downfall

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Columbia Pictures

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 58 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Andy Tennant


Starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valetta

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

Mild

Language

Mild

"Hitch"

Synopsis

Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Smith) is the Love Doctor, someone who will help you get the person you love from afar to notice you.

One of his clients, Albert Brennaman (James), who works for a Manhattan law firm, is in love with rich socialite Allegra Cole (Valetta), so Hitch gives him some advice on how to develop a relationship.

Meanwhile, Hitch meets a columnist, Sara Melas (Mendes), whom Hitch finds very interesting, so in between helping his clients, he tries his tricks on her.

Funny thing is that Sara is trying to discover the true identity of the Love Doctor as a story for her column, and she does not know that Hitch is the one. And, he does not know that she is looking for him either.

So, while Hitch seems successful in helping his clients find love, he has a tough time with his own romance. And, that is before she finds out who he really is.

Commentary

Hitch is an easygoing romantic comedy, with predictable outcomes for all. It does have some very funny scenes, such as where Hitch shows Albert how to kiss, but most of the film is pretty banal.

Extras

These include Blooper Reel, Deleted Scenes, Dance Steps Made Easy, Love in New York, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Walt Disney Pictures 2000

Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 45 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Directed by David Lynch


Starring Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

No

"The Straight Story"

Synopsis

Alvin Straight hasnít spoke to or seen his brother Lyle in over 10 years. When he hears that Lyle has had a stroke, Alvin decides it is time to put the past behind them and visit his brother before it is too late. Unable to walk without two canes, having poor vision, and too proud to bother anyone, Alvin makes the 370 mile journey alone, on his ride-on lawn tractor.

Commentary

Lets see, David Lynch, Disney, rated G. Something here doesnít belong. Donít let either the big-eared mouse, or G rating fool you. This is most definitely a David Lynch film.

Right from the start it has his touch all over it. In fact, in the first 5 seconds, you see a familiar Lynch name, Angelo Badalamenti. Angelo was the composer on this and most every other one of David Lynchís films, and his contribution to this movie is stunning. The soundtrack is captivating. Every scene, every color, ever long-held shot whispers David Lynch. From the odd-yet-normal characters to the absolutely strange story, this is a wonderful story that is a must see for any David Lynch fan.

If you donít like his other films, please donít let that stop you from seeing this one anyway. Non-Lynch fans will find a lot of entertainment in this heartwarming beautifully quirky story. Richard Farnsworth gives an emotional final performance as the old Alvin Straight. He fills the character with so much depth and experience, you would swear this was really about him.

Following Alvin from his home town through a 370 mile trek to see his brother, we meet people that canít help but be intrigued by the man and the journey. The film is based on a true story where Alvin Straight actually drove 370 miles over 6 weeks on a 1966 John Deere ride-on lawn mower. It is an extremely heart-warming story that has to been seen to be fully appreciated.

Technical

Great use of color in this mostly daytime film. The sound is two-channel stereo, but is great using DPL-II. In any case, I forgot all about surround sound once the story began to unfold.

Extras

These include a tribute to Richard Farnsworth (this was his last film). There are no scene selections, as David Lynch prefers his movies to be viewed as a whole.

- Jared Rachwalski -

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Columbia Pictures

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 45 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Kevin Sullivan


Starring Ashton Kutcher, Bernie Mac, Zoe Saldana

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Mild

Language

Mild

"Guess Who"

Synopsis

Meeting your girlfriendís parents for the first time can be nerve wracking. Even more so when you have a protective father who wants nothing but the best for his oldest daughter. Simon Green is about to meet the parents of his girlfriend Theresa Jones when he recklessly quits his job. Knowing that Theresaís father Percy values an employed man above all others, he hides this fact from Theresa.

Just as all fathers, Percy Jones is very skeptical of the new man in his daughterís life. Of course Simon bumbles his way through the interrogative meeting with Percy, offering up more lies to try and boost his image. To make matters worse, Theresa fails to mention to her family that while they are African American, Simon is very white, pasty-white in fact. While this shouldnít matter to anyone, her father canít help but let it drive another stake between him and his future son-in-law.

Commentary

While this story may have been based on the 1967 movie, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Sydney Poitier) about interracial marriages and prejudice, this movie shares much more with the recent comedy, Meet the Parents. Going more for laughs, and less for social commentary, the film is lighthearted and genuinely funny most of the time.

Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac make a decent comedic team, working off each other very well. While there are some weak points, most of the movie is very funny.

Technical

There is nothing spectacular to report, video or sound wise, no explosions, car chases or vivid uses of color. It's mostly a dialogue and soundtrack film with no real work out for the sub or surrounds.

Extras

These include Deleted Scenes With Optional Director Commentary, Gag Reel, The Making Of Guess Who Featurette, Directorís Commentary, and some Previews.

- Jared Rachwalski -

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Dimension Films

2005, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 6 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriquez, and Quentin Tarantino


Starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Jaime King, Elijah Wood, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Booth, Rutger Hauer, Nick Stahl, Michael Madsen

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Graphic

Sex

Yes

Language

Bad

"Sin City"

Synopsis

In surrealistic Basin City, Marvin (Rourke) is in love with a prostitute named Goldie (King) who is murdered by a crazy man named Kevin (Wood), who never seems to blink. He tries to find Kevin so he can apply a special kind of pain to the one who killed his true love.

In the meantime, Detective Hartigan (Willis) saves a young girl named Nancy (Alba) from a child molester, Roark Jr (Stahl), and in the process, he is shot by his partner, Bob (Madsen). Hartigan is framed for the child molestation and put in prison, because the child molester is the son of Senator Roark, a corrupt politician.

Years later, when Nancy is a young woman, Hartigan searches for her, because she was the only one who wrote to him in prison, and she knew that he was innocent.

The third story, going on at the same time as the other two, is about Jackie Boy (Del Toro), a gangster who likes to beat up prostitutes.

Towards the end of the film, all three storylines come together to show how the characters are all dependent on each other.

Commentary

The movie is in black & white, with certain items, such as cars, lips, shoes, and other things, colored red, green, blue, or yellow. It is very high contrast, with every scene at night or in dark buildings.

The characters all have heavy duty flaws of one sort or another, so the whole thing is reminiscent of the Film Noir movies in the 1940's.

Frank Miller contributed to the direction, and the entire thing is taken from his graphic novels about the same subject matter. Quentin Tarantino also was part of the direction team. Rodriguez was responsible for the cinematography.

Extras

These will all appear in a two-disc special edition to come in the future. I hope that Sin City is shown in HD on one of the satellite or cable channels at some point. Rodriguez anticipates that the success of Sin City will result in a series. I suspect it will, because this film is brilliant.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Warner Brothers

2004, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 55 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Oliver Stone


Starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Val Kilmer, Christopher Plummer, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Graphic

Sex

Nudity

Language

No

"Alexander"

Synopsis

In the last half of the 3rd century, B.C., Alexander, son of Philip (Kilmer), King of Macedonia (Greece), and his wife Olympias (Jolie), was born. He was destined to become the ruler of most of the known world, having conquered just about every land that could be reached.

When Philip is murdered, Alexander becomes king, at age 20, and begins his quest.

From the kingdom of Persia, to Egypt, to India, there was just no stopping him

And all of this before his 25th birthday.

The story is told in flashback by Ptolemy (Hopkins), who was famous in his own right as a philosopher and scientist.

Commentary

Alexander lived from 356 to 323 B.C. There is a lot of controversy about how he died. Many believe he was poisoned, although some accounts state it was simply an illness.

The way the story is portrayed, he made his soldiers very angry by insisting that they move on to conquer new lands rather than go home to their families. The implication is that it was poison that killed him in his early 30s.

Although nothing is told about his epilepsy, the story does include his bisexual relationship with Hephaistion (Leto). That word didn't mean anything in those days, however. Sexual activites between men were considered routine. But of course, his relationship with Hephaistion didn't sit well with his wife Roxane (Dawson).

I did get a kick out of seeing Angelina Jolie portray Alexander's mommy.

Extras

These include Resurrecting Alexander, Perfect is the Enemy of God, The Death of Alexander, an Interview with the Director, and a few other things. (There are two discs.)

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Columbia Tristar Hom

2004, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 35 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

German Dolby Digital 5.1

English Subtitles

 

Directed by Oliver Hirschbieqel


Starring Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Kohler, Heino Ferch, Ulrich Noethen

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

War

Sex

Nudity

Language

No

"Downfall"

Synopsis

In the last weeks of April, 1945, just about everyone in Germany knew that they had lost the war. Everyone except Adolf Hitler, who commanded imaginary armies from his Berlin bunker.

Supported by sycophants Joseph (Matthes) and Magda (Harfouch) Goebbels, as well as Heinrich Himmler (Noethen), Hitler continued to believe he could summon Germanic peoples and weaponry to annihilate the Russians, who had entered Berlin and were bombarding everyone and everything.

In the final hours, he married his mistress Eva Braun (Kohler), and committed suicide, not wanting to end up hanging upside down like his pal Mussolini.

Commentary

I am a big fan of WW-II movies, and I was very interested to see how a German production company would portray the story.

Wow, the film is incredible! One of the best war movies I have ever seen. They pulled no punches in showing the madness that existed to the very end. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

The main impetus for the production is Traudl Junge, who was Hitler's personal secretary in the bunker. She provided exacting details of Hitler's behavior, so the story is about as accurate as it could ever be told. She died only just recently, and is portrayed by Alexandra Maria Lara in the movie.

Bruno Ganz is astonishing as Hitler. The most impactive portrayal of this man I have ever watched. If you like war movies, this one is an absolute must-see.

Extras

These include the Making of, and Cast and Crew Interviews.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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